40-40-20 Rule of Marketing


The 40-40-20 Rule of Marketing

If you have worked in direct mail, odds are you have heard of the “Rule of 40-40-20.” It states that 40 percent of direct mail success depends on a well-targeted audience, 40 percent includes a compelling incentive offer, and 20 percent depends on well-executed creative work and everything else. Beware underestimating “the Rule” — as some do — that the creative execution deserves no more than the least of your attention.

Many printed marketing pieces focus heavily on design to persuade their audience to take the next step in the purchasing process. Great layout and design alone, however, won’t propel your direct-mail marketing efforts to success status. In fact, traditional marketing dogma dictates that design is one of the last elements to consider when planning a successful direct-mail marketing promotion. Developed in the 1960’s by marketing guru Ed Mayer, the 40-40-20 rule of direct marketing is a tried-and-true formula for success that all businesses should follow even today.

Audience (40)

Having a highly targeted audience is crucial to direct-mail marketing success. This means that your mailers should be going to people or businesses that are likely to invest in your products and services. Dollars would be well-spent marketing innovative medical services to middle-aged individuals, for instance, but wasted on marketing that same promotion to college students. The key to successfully targeting your audience is through a well-defined mailing list taken from your previous marketing efforts and leads taken from your sales team. A lot of effort goes into finding the right people to market to, and part of that research is derived from your direct mail and online campaigns. It’s important to analyze the data from campaigns so you can maintain a valuable mailing list.

Offer (40)

It’s not uncommon to break away from the prize mindset and offer something intangible, like a seminar session or a Lunch & Learn at the office. A great incentive goes a long way toward determining your marketing success. Even if much of your target audience knows that you exist, they’re not likely to invest their time unless you entice them with a great deal, prize, or offer. When planning your promotion, try to approach your bonus or sale from your customers’ perspectives. If you really want to attract droves of new and repeat business, you’ll have to give them something so good that they truly won’t want to miss it — even if you have to take a cut yourself.

Everything Else (20)

Once you have your target audience, and can offer them something they absolutely have to possess at a great price, you’re ready to present your message. The last 20 percent covers everything from design of the piece, the price of postage, to which day you’ll be mailing your printed piece. Great design that serves as an extension of the offer and connects with the audience can reinforce the persuasive power of any marketing effort. You must also decide if your message is best delivered through a brochure, postcard, greeting card or other form. Other considerations such as paper weight and gloss add a touch of professionalism and credibility to your message. Die-cutting your marketing piece can help grab the attention of your audience even more, as to focus attention to your message.

Ultimately, each element of the 40-40-20 rule of direct-mail marketing depends on the next. You can’t forget about the offer and audience when 80 percent of your campaign success depends on them. Find your audience, give them what they want, and be creative; and you’ll be on the right track for a profitable direct-mail marketing campaign.

with parts taken from “40-40-20 Rule of Direct-Mail Marketing” by PsPrint.

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